Philadelphia’s Third Quarter Results in Ambivalent Housing Market Report

Photo credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo credit: Jeff Fusco

Metrostudy published their third quarter housing report for the Philadelphia MSA (that is, Metropolitan Statistical area, which includes the four counties, plus three counties in New Jersey and three in Delaware) a few days ago.  Their findings show that the region is…well, we’ll let one of their regional director’s explain: Read more »

Philadelphia Is #2 On Counties with Most Man-Made Environmental Hazards List

Photo credit: Vit Brunner via Flickr.

Photo credit: Vit Brunner via Flickr.

Since adding environmental hazard data to its already deep pool of information, RealtyTrac has gone ahead and sorted through its figures to publish a report ranking counties with the highest and lowest in man-made environmental hazards. As can be seen in the chart below, we’ve made it onto one of these lists, fairing at number two on “Top 50 Counties: Highest Prevalence of Man-Made Environmental Hazards.” Yikes.

Real estate-wise, hazardous counties appear to have lower median home values compared to the less hazardous markets. Yet interestingly, short-term home appreciation has been “stronger in the 50 housing markets with the highest prevalence” of hazards. Long-term price appreciation, though, has been weaker. More from RealtyTrac’s VP, Daren Blomquist:  Read more »

Zillow: Home Values and Rents Are Up


Zillow’s latest research shows that nationally and locally home values are up, based on an analysis of 515 metropolitan and micropolitan areas, with 35 of the largest metros areas — Philadelphia included. Here are some overarching stats:

U.S. home values rose 0.5 percent in August 2014 from July, to $175,600.
On a year-over-year basis, home values were up 6.6 percent from August 2013.
The last time national home values were at this level was in March 2005.
Rents were up 3.3 percent on an annual basis.
The calls for 3.1 percent appreciation from August 2014 to August 2015.

In August, Philadelphia, like most of the largest metros, experienced an increase in home values. But it wasn’t a leader: The highest increases were in Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Riverside and Atlanta. Even so, none of the increases bring any of the metros up to the peak home values from April 2007.

Read more »

RealtyTrac Heat Map Reveals Where Millennials and Baby Boomers Are Going

RealtyTrac heatmap showing where the largest shift in millennial population is occuring.

RealtyTrac heatmap showing where the largest shift in millennial population is occuring.

Which counties are seeing an influx of millennials? Which are seeing rapid emigration? And where the heck are baby boomers going? RealtyTrac’s latest report answers these and other questions after analyzing Census population data in over 1,800 counties between 2007 and 2013.

In addition to using the Census data to track each generation’s migration patters, the study used rental rates and median prices to see what prompted millennials and baby boomers to go certain places and not others. (For the record, RealtyTrac defines baby boomers as people born between the years 1945 and 1964, and millennials as those born between 1977 and 1992.)

Here’s what the real estate website found in its analysis: Read more »

Morning Headlines: Home Values In Greater Philadelphia Area Have Gone Up, And Expected to Keep Rising

Screen shot Zillow

The national average for home values may be $174,800, but Philly’s is higher. Here, the median home value is $199,200, a number which Zillow says is the result of a sneaky 3.3% spike every year.

According to the report, Greater Philadelphia Area home values are 13.9% higher than the rest of the country. Using this data, Zillow predicts a 0.9% rise in area home prices “over the next year (July 2014-July 2015)”.

Philadelphia home values up 4.6 percent in past year, says Zillow [Business Journal]

In other news…

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Zillow + Trulia = Godzulia?

The cover that has people talking.

The cover that has people talking.

The cover alone has been making waves, but it’s the inside headline that really has people talking: “Zillow Shares Could Fall By Half.” When Barron’s speaks, investors listen, so this cover story is probably not what Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff wants to see just weeks after announcing a merger with former rival Until now, it’s been a good year for Zillow on Wall Street, with shares rising about 70 percent, according to Barron’s writer Bill Alpert. Trulia’s shares went up in the wake of the merger announcement too. And until now, market watchers have been optimistic. Perhaps too much so, Alpert says:

Bulls have dubbed the planned combination Godzulia, imagining that the two sites will grab a big piece of the $10 billion that realtors spend annually on advertising…Godzulia, however, may not be as awesome as feared. Neither company is expected to make a profit this year under generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP, nor produce much free cash flow.

Not only that, but Barron’s says both sites have the same problem every other content-based website does: an inability to turn high traffic numbers into dollars:

Read more »

Point Breeze Real Estate Scammer Gets the Slammer

Image via Google Street View.

The house at 2022 Titan Street that Tubbs “sold” for $22,000. Image via Google Street View.

According to a U.S Department of Justice release, a Philadelphia man was sentenced last week to almost six years in prison for selling three homes he didn’t own. (Don’t worry, though: The homes weren’t occupied at the time so there were no surprise evictions while the family was eating dinner and watching The Voice.) He created fake deeds that he used to transfer the vacant homes to other people he’d recruited, and then sold the properties to new buyers. But he wasn’t just interested in “dead” properties. He also drafted people to act as phony executors of estates, and sold those properties too. The people who bought the homes from him had no idea they were basically buying air.

He certainly didn’t have expensive tastes: He sold one home for $140,000, another for $140,000 and the last for $22,000. Unfortunately for him, that last one got him only $877 due to all the liens on it. Perhaps he should have checked the city’s website first.

Harvard: Some Young Philly Renters Can Actually Afford to Own a Home

afford-to-ownThe Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) has taken a big pot and stirred in some Census data, Freddie Mac survey results and National Association of Realtors info and come up with this conclusion: In some metros in this great nation of ours, people between the ages of 25 and 34 who are currently renting could actually afford to own a house.

How is this defined? Glad you asked. According to JCHS:

Affordable owner costs are monthly mortgage payments, insurance, and taxes that do not exceed 35% of incomes. Mortgages assume a 5% downpayment, a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at 2013 interest rates on the median priced home for that metro.

The problem is that these young renters, as JCHS calls them, can’t afford to buy a house in the first place.

In the Philly metro area, it’s not as though this is a crushing problem to begin with, as the share of renters who can afford to own is only 43.4 percent. This isn’t too much higher than the percentage rate of homeownership among the same demographic, which is 39.8 percent. Other stats:

Overall Homeownership Rate (Percent) 67.7
Median Income, Renters Aged 25-34 40,586
Median Home Price (Dollars) 217,700
Monthly Owner Costs (Dollars) 1,378

Many Young Renters Can Afford Monthly Cost of Owning a Home in Their Metro [JCHS]

Morning Headlines: Apartment Market Cooling in Center City

Photo of Southstar Lofts by Laura Kicey.

Photo of Southstar Lofts by Laura Kicey.

On the heels of yesterday’s news about home ownership taking a nosedive comes a report from Delta Associates via the Philadelphia Business Journal outlining an uptick in apartment vacancies in Center City.

According to Natalie Kostelni, the report found a vacancy increase in South Jersey, the suburbs and Center City between mid-year 2013 and now. That puts vacancies in Center City at 5 percent, South Jersey at 4.5 percent and the suburbs (a coy term for a variety of areas, one must add) at 5.7 percent.

Rents, Delta found, are also taking a hit in Center City, falling 1.6 percent to $2,141. In the burbs, it’s a different story, where rates have actually gone up to an average of $1,447 a month.

All of this begs some questions about the new residential construction seemingly everywhere downtown.

With about 5,025 units under construction or on the drawing board, “Philadelphia’s supply-demand relationship indicates that vacancy will continue to edge up slightly and rent growth is likely to stay negative over the next 24 months.”

Yikes. But not to worry, Delta says. All will be well. Somehow … vaguely.

In spite of some of this initial concern about the number of units that will eventually hit the market in Philadelphia, Delta is confident that demographic trends toward renting and urban living will eventually support what ultimately gets built.

More news this way …
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